instituionalized behavior

 

one day early on when we first got to the camp ,we would sit outside under the trees, all the new guys would sit here, when I was there for awhile I noticed several sets of new guys sitting there wave after wave, the town driver who was an inmate was a predator he used his position to size guys up and see who he could take advantage of, one day we "new guys" were joking about all the odd habits that guys had, being unnerved by someone shuffling their feet, the whole not reaching across your cafeteria tray thing, if you reached across someone's food you could get punched in the head, as their tray had some kind of air rights, if you offered some one food you decanted it into a bowl or napkin this was to not transfer germs, we were sitting laughing about all these habits, and he got very serious as he had some of these habits and said that it sneaks up on you and after a year or two in prison if you could still have this position he would be surprised , that it was inevitable that each of us would develop these habits, It was up to your bunkie to make you aware of any issue the other inmate had with you, the guys didnt have alot to do so if you shuffled your feet , or walked to slow, or walked around in your underwear, it was up to your bunkie to set you straight , our friend paul his bunkie would wait until lights out at 10pm to tell him , Paul paul- the guys are complaining that you don't pick up your feet when you walk,- you have to stop...paul paul you leave your ... his bunkie at the time we called "he who runs with dark clouds" after years of being locked up everyone had differnt things that bugged them ,

every morning I would wake up after count and have coffee in the same chair looking out the window watching the sun rise ,or sit in the dark and , the guards would do count at 5 I would wake up and see if they were kind enough to open the kitchenette , (some times if they had caught some one out of bounds during the night they would leave it locked until 8am ) I would wake up get my instant coffee and go to the hot water dispenser, if the kitchenette was locked I would use tap water,in sitting there you could watch guys and their habits, like me they did the same thing everyday, one guy who actually could read would , sit by the light and recite the bible , the head of the unit orderlies would stomp around and complain about what a bad job cleaning everyone else had done,his got to was hate he ated everything and everyone , he wasn't bitter enough to derail your release like some guys but he was very vocal about it . other odd white guys were changed for life, it was looking at these behaviors that made me realize how easy it was to fall into these behaviors , some guys would stare into space , other guys would habitually spit into garbage cans going around from one garbage can to another . then the guy who runs the inmate store who never sleeps because he is always moving the store around a young guy a ex heroin dealer, would just walks around like a caged lion back and forth,back and forth , other guys are so worried about germs, they wear blue rubber gloves all the time  during the day all day, these behaviors they dont see anymore, they have been in a world where it is normal , they dont realize that it is odd, some guys  have come from decades inside, where the sink in the cell is a cooking thing, that is kept clean and dont ever spit in it , they get very upset in the common bathroom we have where people like me who have just come in whether its a year or six months its still not 10 years , brush thier teeth and spit in the toilet ,you see many guys who have these odd behaviors , who dont realize they have slipped into them can you catch yourself when you slip into these things or is it ,what do I have that is left over, being worried of not getting enough to eat, drinking hot water with lemon in it , when I came home I had all my licence and money in a plastic bag so you could see everything , she turned to me and said you know that looks really weird is that left over form prison and it was I had to remember to not do these things, when they happen I catch myself